Kathleen A. Brown-Perez, Esq. talk - Destroy to Replace: What Twenty-first Century Resistance Means to American Indians

October 16, 2018 - 3:30pm to 5:30pm
Integrated Science Building (ISB) Room 145, UMass Amherst, USA

Resistance Studies Initiative Fall Speaker Series: 
Distinguished researchers and activists share critical reflections on resistance issues.

Refreshments will be served
Open to all

Kathleen A. Brown-Perez is a faculty member in the Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, with an appointment in the Anthropology Department. She teaches criminal law and the Senior Honors Thesis seminar “Conquest by Law: The Use of Law to Subjugate and Marginalize in the U.S.” She has a JD and MBA from the University of Iowa and is licensed to practice in Arizona and Massachusetts. Previously a corporate attorney in Boston, Kathleen now limits her legal practice to federal Indian law.  

A member of the Brothertown Indian Nation (Wisconsin), her research and publications focus on issues of federal Indian policy and law, including sovereignty, identity, and federal acknowledgment. Recent publications include the article "By Whatever Means Necessary: The U.S. Government’s Ongoing Attempts to Remove Indigenous Peoples During an Era of Self-(De)termination" in the New Diversities special issue on Indigenous Politics of Resistance: From Erasure to Recognition (2017), and the chapter "'An Inconvenient Truth': The Use of Federal Policy to Erase American Indians, Indian Tribes, and Indigenous Heritage" in Heritage at the Interface (Univ. of Florida 2018). 

Abstract: In 21st century America, what does it mean to "resist" as an American Indian? Whether your resistance is private or public, big or small, you have to begin with understanding what you're up against. In the case of American Indians, we are up against a settler-colonial society. When such a society moves in, they do so to stay. The resource they primarily want cannot be extracted and taken back to Europe. They are here for the land and for the very air the Indigenous peoples breathe. They do not come to a new land with the intention of learning the language and the customs. They come to take over, to superimpose settler-colonial language, religion, customs, and values over the Indigenous population. As scholar Patrick Wolf noted, the goal of settler colonialism is "destroy to replace." He further pointed out that "settler colonizers come to stay: invasion is a structure not an event." That is what American Indians are up against, settler colonizers who have used many methods, reflected in federal Indian policies, to destroy the Indigenous peoples.

While 21st century policies do not explicitly and publicly announce the goal to kill off the Indians, there are policies in place that nonetheless serve to destroy Indigeneity. One such policy in place includes the federal government taking control of the definitions of “Indian” and “tribe” in a way that excludes many Indigenous peoples. People are being defined out of existence, erased from the landscape. Federal actions may have changed over the years, but the result is the same:  fewer and fewer Indigenous peoples in the U.S.  Twenty-first century resistance must include understanding government policies and goals - past, present, and future - and how to fight against them, so that we can resist their goal to destroy and replace us.

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